Post Office this week announced the forthcoming closure of its Wombwell branch, following a decision made by discount food retailer Heron Foods which lets out part of its High Street shop for postal and banking services.
The closure, announced as ‘temporary’ while Post Office investigates alternative ways to continue serving the town, will come into effect from July 27. A spokesperson added it was ‘working hard to keep any period of closure to a minimum’.
Wombwell Coun Robert Frost said: “Wombwell is Barnsley’s biggest Principal Town and will be left without a post office.
“For many, travelling will require the use of public transport at a time when, due to social distancing, travel is not recommended and this is unlikely to change before July. They’ve said the nearest branches are Brampton and Jump, but that will be a long way to travel for people who are elderly or disabled.
“Many were persuaded to use the post office to do their banking as their branches have closed. I hope a replacement can quickly be found as the timing is appalling during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“To pull the plug at a time like this is despicable.”
Coun Brenda Eastwood, who spoke to the Chronicle on the phone while concerned neighbours stood at her door, said she uses the branch twice a week. “It’s a very busy post office,” she added.
‘It’s a massive thing for Wombwell and even people from Darfield who come to use it. It’s one of the main things on Wombwell.
“We have got a good market, one of the best, but the high street’s struggling and it isn’t going to keep it going by itself. I’m shocked, the same as everybody else. It’s frightening to think what’s going to happen to Wombwell.”
While the closure of the town’s Yorkshire Bank has reportedly been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak, when this does happen it will leave residents - many of whom are elderly or don’t use the internet - without access to a physical bank.
With only one other bank - Barclays in Hoyland - remaining in the whole of the Barnsley East constituency, and ten in Barnsley Central, Post Offices were posited as a lifeline for those who require physical banking services.
There are more than 60 Post Office branches in Barnsley, but many have been downsized or established in other premises, and some still face the threat of closure.
A Heron spokesperson, said: “Unfortunately we’ve had to make the difficult decision to close the Post Office in the Wombell store as a result of diminishing demand and a reduction in scale fees from the Post Office.”
MP Stephanie Peacock said: “In the last year a number of local post office branches serving our community have closed. Grimethorpe in May, Hoyland in July and Darfield in November.
“Members of our community with limited internet access, including the elderly and disabled, have been hit hard by these closures.
“I have written to the Post Office, who had previously given assurances that these closures would be temporary, and will continue to campaign for local branches to be reopened.”